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What will make your business green and sustainable depends on what your business does. Food service will have different requirements than a cleaning supply or service company, of course.
But there are some general things every business must do in order to improve sustainability. For example, you must first figure out your current environmental footprint to know how to improve it. So, here is a quick guide, adapted from the Massachusetts Food Association Member Green Guidelines. It provides a snapshot of the sustainability issues and potential resources you will have to address to make your business green.
Your footprint is your business's ecological impact. It is made up of water, waste, and energy. Each of these areas must be assessed in order to determine more efficient use of natural resources. Look for ways to reduce and improve water use, consider using different materials than the ones you do now to minimize waste, and change your lights to improve your energy use.
Although it is time consuming to review every process and every expense that uses water, creates waste, or expends energy in your business, it is worth your time and money. You may find that being green saves you money in the short and long run, apart from being good for the earth. Making your business sustainable now also puts you ahead of the game.
Federal laws that address the environment exist but they are not yet at the point of dictating business activities locally. That may change. Knowing now how to best use resources will make it easy for you to continually adapt to any requirements.
At this time, federal authorities are sorting out their own sustainability priorities. The Environmental Protection Agency is looking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from federal buildings and establish a new target by 2025. But for the time being, state and local laws dictate what you have to do to get sustainable.
In California, the major concern is for water. In New York, energy expenditure and waste disposal are serious preoccupations. For you, as a business owner, your main concern may be the cost of sustainability. But ignoring an excessive environmental footprint could come at a cost that no one can afford.
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